By Kevin Williams
I was recently in northern Maine on a business, a small out-of-the-way outpost on the New Brunswick-Maine border. I found myself in a town called Madawaska. A whole string of towns here along US Route 1A along the St John River are primarily French-speaking towns. In Madawaska the population is close to 80 percent French-speaking as a first language. The area is just across from Edmundston, New Brunswick which is heavily French also. The French here are known as "Acadians" and are cousins to the Cajuns who bring so much culture and joy to southern Louisiana.
Acadian cooking comes from a completely different cultural background than Amish cooking. Amish food has largely been shaped by the generation it is in and the region and has been heavily influenced by processed foods. Acadian cooking is more "pure", enjoying a deep historical resonance in the area.
One of the things to try is the traditional Acadian chicken stew. If dumplings are added to it, it is called fricot. Visitors to the area can find the stew on restaurant menus including Dolly's Restaurant where this photo was taken and where I enjoyed some delicious eats! This is a photo of the thick stew, a staple to get through the long brutal winters here, but it is a favorite year-round. Although most families have their own recipe for this with minor variations, this is a popular formulation! I'll be posting more from Acadia in the days ahead!
- 1 chicken, cut up into serving size pieces
- 1-tablespoon flour
- 1-tablespoon oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 12 cups of water
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon summer savory
- 5 cups diced potatoes
- In a large pot (French or Dutch oven) add oil and brown the chicken.
- Remove the chicken pieces and brown the onion and flour in the remaining oil for 1 to 2 minutes. Add water, salt, pepper and savory.
- Cook until the chicken is tender (1 to 1-½ hours, depending on the size of the chicken).
- Add the potatoes and cook for 20 minutes longer.
- Serve immediately.